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Addressing the media outside his Chicago home following his historic impeachment conviction, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich said he never considered resigning and dodged questions about his future plans, including whether he'll write a book. He reiterated his criticisms of the impeachment trial, saying again that the "fix was in," and attributed his ouster to his work on behalf of needy families. He vowed to continue his crusade, saying just because he's not governor anymore doesn't mean he'll stop working to clear his name and help people.
After initially ending the press conference and climbing the stairs back to his home, Blagojevich heard a couple kids in the crowd and returned to greet them. He promised one that he would play basketball with him this summer.
Blagojevich's final act as governor was ordering clemency for two people: Jimmie Beck, 40, a janitor at the homeless shelter that formerly employed Patti Blagojevich who had been convicted of drug dealing and real estate mogul Fred Latsko, 43, who had been convicted of theft.
The Illinois Senate voted unanimously Thursday to convict Gov. Rod Blagojevich, removing him from office immediately. Minutes after the 59-0 vote, the Senate also voted to ban Blagojevich from ever holding public office in Illinois again.
The vote marks the first time in state history that a governor has been impeached and convicted. Watch the verdict:
In his first remarks upon being sworn in by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, Quinn assured Illinois that "the ordeal is over."
Calling on his populist roots and the 'Yes We Can' theme of Barack Obama's presidential campaign, Quinn said, "here in Illinois we have seen what people can do when they do come together, not for profit but for a cause they believe. ... Together we can make the will of the pople the law of the land."
Watch Quinn's swearing-in:
Quinn later said that he will live in the governor's mansion in Springfield, an important symbolic break from Blagojevich, who worked out of his Chicago home and loathed trips to the capitol.
Blagojevich's ouster follows his dramatic closing argument in Springfield, in which he implored Senators not to convict him because he had not done anything wrong.
"You haven't proved a crime, and you can't because it didn't happen," Blagojevich told the Senate. "How can you throw a governor out of office with insufficient and incomplete evidence?" Watch:
The Senate soundly rejected Blagojevich's remarks in their deliberations before the vote, chastising the governor for his unwillingness to participate in the trial, present any real evidence in his defense, and general arrogance toward the proceedings.
"The governor gave a good speech today," said Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford). "But his speech doesn't change the facts of this case."
Sen. Dan Cronin (R-Elmhurst) called the evidence against Blagojevich "clear and compelling." Sen. Dan Rutherford (R-Chenoa) said Blagojevich's "greatest offense is that he essentially paralyzed our state government" and "hurt the economy of local communities [and] has actually hurt real people."
Democratic Sen. James Meeks, a powerful Chicago minister, mocked Blagojevich's profane language on the FBI wiretaps, "We have this thing called impeachment and it's bleeping golden and we've used it the right way."
The Illinois state web site has already been changed. From the new front page:
SPRINGFIELD - January 29, 2009. Former Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn has become the 41st Governor of the State of Illinois, having taken the Oath of Office at 5:40 p.m. on Thursday, January 29, 2009 The Oath of Office was administered by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke in a brief ceremony in the Chamber of the Illinois House of Representatives.
Mayor Daley issued a statement on the conviction:
"Thankfully, this sad and tragic chapter in our state's history is behind us. I want to congratulate our new governor, Pat Quinn. We all wish him well. Now, it's time to look to the future. It's time for the governor and the legislature to begin rebuilding confidence in our state government. As the nation's recession deepens, there are many challenges ahead. The state's budget deficit is growing. We need to get the Illinois economy moving again by passing a statewide capital bill to improve our schools, highways and public transportation. There's a lot of work that needs to be done to get Illinois back on track, and we must begin that work immediately."
Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a potential challenger to Gov. Quinn in next year's Democratic primary, issued this statement:
"With the Senate's vote today, the destructive tenure of Rod Blagojevich has ended. We can now move forward with the work of the People of the State of Illinois.
I respect the diligent and thoughtful work of the House and Senate throughout this impeachment process and thank the members of the Illinois General Assembly for their commitment to upholding the State's Constitution and laws. The People of Illinois should feel confident that they were well served over these past weeks.
I am committed to working with Governor Quinn to move our state beyond this sad chapter. I pledge the full resources of my office to assist Governor Quinn and to work to restore the trust of the People of Illinois in their government."